Image Map

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

THIS is what it's all about!

When we were in Ethiopia, on the day we were picking up our sons at the Transition Home, Rachel had to leave for awhile because she was bringing some new children to the Transition Home. Initially hearing this, I thought how nice it was that a few more children would be leaving an orphanage and coming to the secure and nurturing environment of the AWAA Transition Home. I didn't fully understand what a traumatic and terrifying experience a move like that is to the children.

Oftentimes, the kids don't understand what is happening to them. They are pulled from the only place and the only people that are familiar to them. No matter how bad the situation is wherever they are - it is the only place they know. For some kids, they may be waiting in vain for a parent to return to them and bring them home - and by leaving, they think they have lost all possible ties to a parent (a parent that would not be returning for them). "How will mommy find me now?"

I hadn't really envisioned the trauma of the move to a new place until I saw it firsthand. Shortly after we arrived at the Transition Home, the gate opened and Rachel drove into the courtyard with 5 children in the back seat. She had a distressed look on her face as she got out of the car, and she motioned for a few nannies to come and help. She explained that one child had thrown up in the backseat, and another was sobbing unconsolably. As the children stumbled from the car, dazed and scared, they huddled together in the courtyard, staring back in fear at the unfamiliar faces they saw.

I scooped up one little girl in my arms and reached for another as she stood with her fists balled up in her eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks. She peered through the tears at me and then her sobs turned into a scream of fear. A nanny swept her up into her arms and hustled her off to the home, mumuring calmly to her as they walked away. With one little girl wrapped in my arms, I slowly approached a little boy and girl who were standing together. The little boy's arms were wrapped protectively around the little girl.

He stood like a little island for a brief moment, then his nostrils flared and he fought the tears, but his face crumpled and his little body shook with big sobs. He pulled the little girl closer - gestured between himself and her, and somehow I understood that she was his little sister. He was so scared and he was doing his best to be brave - and to be brave for her. I hugged him and moments later Jay, Emme and Maea slowly approached and tried to comfort the kids. The little boy told me his name was "Bereket" and he gestured to his mouth to ask for water. We got him and his sister a glass of water and they gulped it down thirstily.

I was haunted by this glimpse into the world of an orphan - alone and scared and vulnerable. Rachel asked me to take a few pictures of each of the kids, so she could use them for referral photos. Together, we washed up faces and wiped noses, and tried to coax smiles out of the kids since these would be the first photos their new families would ever see.

A few days later, we returned to the Transition Home to drop off a few items and all of the kids came running to see who was arriving. I was so amazed to see how quickly the new kids had adapted - as they came running to the car, smiling and giggling and waving as hard as they could.

This happened in early December and I have been waiting with great anticipation as these kids were referred to families. Just four months later, several of these kids have passed court and they now have forever families. I am amazed at the change in their lives in just four short months. THIS is what it is all about!!! "God sets the lonely in families" and these children are loved more than they know, by families they have not even met yet!

The little brother and sister, Bereket and Bertu, are now officially VanDruffs, and will soon be meeting their mom and dad. The child that threw up in the back seat of the car and stared solemnly at us with big, terrified eyes has now passed court and is officially a Bartel. Watch their video and look at the transformation (we could not coax a smile from her that day) in this beautiful little girl as she has come to know what love is!

This is what adoption is all about!


Renee' said...

This is so beautiful. I can't wait for our kids to be able to read and understand this, and tell me about it in their own words!!

Anonymous said...

Your blog always leaves me so longing to hold our boys M and D! I cannot wait! Thanks for continuing to post such insightful posts! Your whole family is so beautiful!
Steph P

Shelley Egly said...

hi my name is shelley. we are adopting two sisters, ages 3 and 4, from ethiopia through awaa. i believe they were also brought to the transition home in december. would you be able to message me at and let me know if two sisters were brought when you were there? i would love to know more if you remember them. thanks so much!!!!! what a an awesome story you have and what a beautiful gift for the families to know this part of their child's story!

Anonymous said...

Oh Karen...I totally crying...Awesome!! God is amazing! He never forgets one of them. THIS is what it is all about...thanks for the awesome illustration!

PS. I love all the beach pics!!!

B DuBose said...

Thank you for this beautiful story. I am crying! We leave in four days to bring our infant son, Bereket, home. While there, I promise to love on each and every child there! After reading this post, I know it will make a difference.